Class Trip to the Port of Wilmington – A Student’s Perspective

Photo by Jenny Lautzenheiser.

Written by ABM student Loni Askew:

On March 22nd, the International Agricultural Trade class at NC State had the chance to visit North Carolina’s Port of Wilmington. Within the port, the class could take a bus tour to see how the port works up close and listened to a few employees from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Port Authority. The class also had a chance to tour IVP Forest Products, LLC. This company specializes in exporting logs to other countries. It is important for people to know what exactly goes on within the ports of their state. This experience was very intriguing and educational. Students learned about the ports requirements for containers and products within them, they saw the different jobs available at the port and why it is important to know the rules and regulations for the country the ship will be entering.

The Port of Wilmington is located along the Cape Fear River, which is only 26 miles from the open sea. Ships are constantly coming and going from this port carrying many containers full of different products. The port is open to ships twenty-four, seven. When they come in, employees are at their stations ready to unload and reload with containers to be sent off once again. The port visit showed students how well everyone works when there is a ship in port. Some of the jobs people have are moving the containers to their designated location at the port, unloading and loading the containers, and operating the equipment used to pick up and load containers onto trucks. Once the containers are unloaded, they are then picked up by a designated truck and carried to their destination.

Loading a ship at dock with containers.

Visiting North Carolina’s Port of Wilmington left students with more information about the logistic considerations of international trade. This trip taught everyone about the port’s requirements for containers and products coming into the port and the importance of knowing rules and regulations. The port had many requirements for the containers that enter. Those requirements are set in place to keep bad things such as, diseases, weeds or other pests from entering our land. If there is dirt or other things like, snails found on the outside of the containers, they must call and have those containers sterilized before they can leave the port. Port authority also checked what is inside of the containers. When containers are shipped, a seal is placed on the outside of them. If the seal has been broken, this will require port authority to further investigate. If the container and its products are too contaminated, the company who sent the shipment will get a fine and they may have to pay for the products to be shipped back. Therefore, it is important to know all the rules and regulations for the other ports that shipments are going. If exporters do everything right on their part, they should not have trouble when the shipment reaches its port destination.

IVP Forest Products, LLC is a log exporting service that has been running for over four generations in the US and Austria. This company exports mainly Southern Yellow Pine logs for ports located in China. In China, some example of what those logs can be turned into are plywood, flooring, and paneling. IVP mainly uses logs that are cut within approximately 60 miles of their operation, located across the street from the port in Wilmington. At this location, they tag, debark, fumigate, and pack loads of logs brought to the log yard. It is important to debark and treat the logs with chemicals to avoid mold, pests and other factors that could harm the quality of the logs. It takes approximately six weeks for the logs to reach China after they are shipped from the Port of Wilmington, therefore they need to be properly treated.

To have a resource such as, the Port of Wilmington, so close is a very good resource. Having this port allows our state to be connected to the rest of the world through trade. North Carolina is about to open their market and find new customers from different countries, like IVP Forest Products did. This company realized there was an opportunity for exporting Southern Yellow Pine logs to China and have become a very successful business from this business endeavor. It is important for everyone to take time to learn about what resources their state has and this trip allowed the students that opportunity. It also gave students the out of classroom experience everyone is looking for when it comes to their education.


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